Dead Space, Hi-Fi Rush, and Other Video Games We're Playing … – The New York Times

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With new video games popping up all the time, it can be tough to figure out which ones are worth playing. Wirecutter’s tech team spends way too much time playing everything, from new releases to classic games, and we want to help you figure out what you should play right now. We’ll also share the games we’re excited about playing soon.
Here are the games we’re playing on our consoles, PCs, and handhelds in February, as well as all the releases we’re looking forward to.
The PS VR2 is finally here, and although we’re mostly impressed, we’re not sure you should buy one yet. PlayStation says that around 40 games should be available for the new VR headset by the end of March, but most of those titles are ports of games from other platforms, and software made for the original PSVR isn’t compatible with the new headset. Don’t get us wrong: The new headset is a great piece of hardware, with excellent motion tracking and beautiful OLED screens, and it’s the easiest, most comfortable-to-wear VR option we’ve seen. But the headset’s price is high at $550, it won’t work without a PlayStation 5 ($500), and we’re not sure what the game situation will look like. For now, we think you should wait.
Hi-Fi Rush
Rated T; PC, Xbox Series X|S
The bright, animated, music-fueled action of Hi-Fi Rush makes it one of the buzziest games of 2023. Upon its surprise release at the end of January, it received universal praise for its brilliant anime-inspired visuals and traditional action gameplay with a soundtrack that literally drives everything: Platforms and the world move to the music, the main character snaps to the beat, and everything attacks according to the time signature. If you manage to time your attacks to the beat, you do more damage and earn better ratings, but no matter what, everything you do keeps in time to the music. The result is a game that’s both fun and sonically satisfying in a way few games are, and it’s a visual treat, too.
Metroid Prime Remastered
Rated T; Nintendo Switch
Metroid Prime fans have been waiting (and waiting …) for Metroid Prime 4 since it was announced in 2017. But in the meantime, Nintendo and developer Retro Studios are giving players both old and new a chance to play a significantly improved version of the 2002 original with the release of Metroid Prime Remastered. The Remastered edition’s most obvious improvement is its majorly overhauled visuals, which bring things largely in line with what modern players expect from the Nintendo Switch. But the biggest change is the addition of dual analog control options, a major shift from the single-stick, lock-on control scheme of the original release. Metroid Prime was always a better adventure and exploration game than a shooter, and despite the new control scheme in the Remastered version, that hasn’t changed. But this is still one of the more iconic, lesser-played gems of Nintendo’s early-’00s library, and the $40 price tag is very reasonable.
Fire Emblem Engage
Rated T; Nintendo Switch
Fire Emblem Engage is a turn-based strategy game that focuses on its deep, intricate combat system more than on its plot, which is formulaic and fairly predictable. It’s the 10th main Fire Emblem game released in the United States since 2003, and fans of the series know that a few things happen in nearly every Fire Emblem game: Somebody wakes up without their memory, someone turns into a dragon, and the king of a country based on militarism takes a devil’s bargain only for their children to regret it later.
Luckily, Fire Emblem’s plot has always been tangential to the gameplay, which in this installment is the best that fans have gotten in years. The turn-based battles take place on large grids, and on player and enemy turns the units move around the map like chess pieces. Each type of unit has strengths and weaknesses to exploit. Engage also adds an impressive amount of complexity to the optimization of each character, across a wide menu of class options for any character, upgradable weapons, and the assignment of Emblem Rings, which hold the souls of past Fire Emblem heroes and give any character access to new abilities and better stats. One Emblem Ring allows any unit to become a healer, for instance, while another can help a unit attack from a far distance or set the terrain on fire.
Compared with previous Fire Emblem titles, the mechanics of this game involve a slightly more difficult learning curve, so I wouldn’t recommend it as the first game to try in the series unless you’re a serious strategy-game nerd. But if you are that nerd, Engage is a must-play.
Dead Space (2023)
Rated M; PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
The original Dead Space terrified players with its horrifying combination of Aliens and 28 Days Later horror influences set within the “survival horror” gameplay of classics like Resident Evil 4. Now, remade with modern technology, Dead Space feels even more vital, interesting, and fun. It puts players in the role of space engineer Isaac Clarke as he travels with a rescue team to find the deep-space mining ship USS Ishimura. But Clarke and his team find the Ishimura overrun by horrific necromorphs—transformed and mutated crewmembers that Clarke can stop only by cutting them to pieces using makeshift engineering tools like the Plasma Cutter and the saw-firing Ripper. The remade Dead Space is often stunning, frequently scary, and always fun, if you have the heart (and the stomach) for its graphic horror violence and frequent scares.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Rated M; PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S; previous-generation console versions also available
In December, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was rereleased for the newest generation of consoles. We already loved The Witcher 3 for its well-crafted story adapted from a series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski about mutated monster slayers scorned by society, but the game’s copious cutscenes are more engrossing to watch than ever, and the grotesque monsters are almost too detailed. Certain fixes have also made the combat, which blends sword-fighting mechanics with the use of magical spells, even more fun. As if The Witcher 3 weren’t overwhelming enough with its expansive map and overabundance of side quests, brand-new content from Netflix’s The Witcher series have also been added with this update.
Rated T; PC, PlayStation 5
When Returnal debuted on the PS5 in 2021, it proved to offer an addictive combination of old-school arcade shooting and third-person action, albeit with a twist: Set on an alien world with supernatural mysteries aplenty, every playthrough features a new world layout, different weapon and ability drops, and story progression that requires your expected, repeated failures to finish. Death isn’t just a possibility—it’s a necessity here, as it advances the main character’s story. Now Returnal is set to launch on PC later this month with a host of graphical enhancements to challenge players who own more powerful hardware.
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe
February 24
Rated E; Nintendo Switch
The Deluxe version of Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, which was originally released on the Wii back in 2011, remasters the cooperative take on Nintendo’s fluffy pink devourer of enemies big and small in a four-player adventure. It offers all the family-friendly fun and hidden-collectible gathering you might expect from one of Nintendo’s beloved franchises, and you can play with three friends all in the same room, an increasingly rare phenomenon in 2023. But the most interesting part may be the expanded content that Nintendo has added to this new version of the game, which applies an RPG-style progression system to a new set of levels featuring an entirely separate character and very different gameplay.
Like a Dragon: Ishin!
Rated M; PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
The Yakuza series’s brand of sprawling, action-RPG and mini-game-heavy stories of gangsters and the people who love and hate them has been popular in Japan for almost two decades, but the series only recently exploded internationally after titles like 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon. That game’s success has led to a new name for the series outside of Japan—Like a Dragon—and a remake of one of the franchise’s more obscure entries, now retitled Like a Dragon: Ishin! Set at the end of the Edo period and the twilight of the samurai class, Like a Dragon: Ishin! follows main character Ryoma as the ronin seeks to solve a murder mystery by pursuing the practitioners of a specific style of swordsmanship. In the process, he finds his way into a variety of side quests and misadventures, including investigating a mysterious dancing cult, betting on racing chickens, chopping a lot of wood, and more.
Did we mention that things get a little weird? In my time with Like a Dragon: Ishin!, I also experienced an immediately captivating story of intrigue and betrayal that kept my attention through some very long cutscenes.
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon
March 17
Rated T; Nintendo Switch
The Bayonetta series is known for its excellent witch-powered combat gymnastics set against epic, magical backdrops with, well, a lot of risque visuals—the title character channels her magical abilities through her hair, which powers her attacks and abilities, often at the expense of some modesty. But Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon represents a departure for series creator PlatinumGames, because it’s a storybook-style action RPG. Though the aesthetic is smaller and different from what the series is known for, its visuals evoke the same novel explorations of pagan and Judeo-Christian imagery, albeit with a lot less titillation. The more family-friendly looks belie Bayonetta Origins’ gameplay—you’ll frequently control both Bayonetta and her newly demon-possessed stuffed cat Cheshire, one on the Nintendo Switch’s left analog stick, and the other on the right. In my time with the game at a recent Nintendo event, I found Bayonetta Origins challenging but much more interesting and engaging than I’d expected, with a mix of rhythm-based puzzles and action, plus a unique story that left me curious to see more.
System Shock
March 2023
Rated M; PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
System Shock’s 1994 PC release sold only modestly well, but it would prove to be one of the most influential first-person games of all time, directly inspiring (and employing some of the creative leads of) games like BioShock, Deus Ex, 2017’s Prey, and countless other games. Set on a space station enslaved by a rogue AI and overrun by robots, mutants, and cyborgs, this “immersive simulation” game—designed to allow open-ended problem solving and gameplay decisions within a first-person shooter shell—has been in remake development hell for years. But the most promising attempt so far is almost here, and it released a brand-new demo on Steam in February for the platform’s Next Fest. Though it’s been remade in modern tech, this updated System Shock’s design and trappings are gloriously rooted in the ’90s, complete with “edgy” cyberpunk aesthetics and weird, creative gameplay possibilities that manage to feel fresh almost 30 years later.
This article was edited by Arthur Gies and Caitlin McGarry.
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Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).


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